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Coronavirus and your income

You may get other kinds of help if you are self-employed. Business Debtline can give you more information, see www.businessdebtline.org.

Help for employees

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - extended

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) was introduced to prevent the need for your employer to make you redundant. If you’re enrolled on the scheme you would be classed as a furloughed worker, which means you are kept on your employer's payroll, rather than being laid off.

The CJRS was due to close at the end of October 2020, but will now run until the end of March 2021.​​

Until the scheme is reviewed in January 2021, HMRC will pay 80% of your wage to your employer up to a cap of £2,500, your employer will need to cover National Insurance and minimum pension contributions.

Your employer can also bring you back to work on part time basis, this will enable your employer to bring you back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, whilst still using the CJRS to claim for the usual hours that you haven’t worked.

To be eligible for the extended CJRS, you will need to have been on your employers payroll by 30th October 2020.

  • ​Your employer will need to agree any hours that they expect you to work with you. 
  • ​Your employer should keep a new written agreement that confirms the new furlough arrangement. 
  • A flexible furlough agreement can last for any amount of time and as many agreements can be entered it to as necessary.
  • There will be no minimum period for which you have to be furloughed.​

The Job Support Scheme

This scheme plans to start when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.​ You do not need to have been part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to be eligible.

To qualify for the Job Support Scheme, you must be on your employer’s payroll between 6 April 2019 and 23 September 2020.

The help you receive through the Job Support Scheme depends on whether your hours are reduced or whether you are unable to work because of restrictions.

If your hours have been reduced, the Job Support Scheme will enable the government and your employer to continue to pay you for some of the hours you are not able to work.

  • You need to work at least 20% of your usual hours.​​
  • ​Your employer will need to pay you for all the hours you have worked.
  • For hours you have not worked, you will be paid two-thirds of your usual wage. The government will pay 61.67% and your employer will pay 5%.
  • Your working hours can change, but any short-time working arrangement must cover seven days.
  • Your employer cannot make you redundant whilst you are on the scheme.
  • The Government contribution will be a maximum of £1541.75 a month.​

If you are unable to work for a temporary period due to local or national restrictions, the Job Support Scheme may be able to help by paying two-thirds of your wage.

  • You do not need to work any hours for your employer to use the scheme.
  • Your employer must be subject to restrictions and you must be off work for a minimum of seven consecutive calendar days.​
  • Your employer does not need to pay you anything on top of the two-thirds received from the government.
  • Your employer cannot make you redundant whilst you are on the scheme.
  • The government contribution will be a maximum of £2083.33 a month.

​Speak to your employer about the scheme if your hours are reduced or they are forced to close due to alert level restrictions. ​

In work and need to self-isolate?

Test and Trace Support Payment scheme

From 28 September 2020, if you are on a low income and are asked to self-isolate you may receive a payment of £500.

Local schemes should start running by 12 October 2020, if you have been asked to self-isolate from 28 September the payment will be backdated. You will be eligible for the payment if you live in England, Wales or Scotland and meet the following criteria:

  • ​you have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace and have a unique ID number;
  • you are employed and your employer can confirm you are unable to work from home, or you are self-employed and you can show that you are unable to run your business without social contact; and
  • you are claiming at least one of the following benefits: universal credit, working tax credit, income-related employment and support allowance, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, pension credit or housing benefit.​

If you don’t receive one of the qualifying benefits, local authority’s may still be able to make a payment to you if you are on a low income and could suffer financial hardship from not being able to work

Contact your local authority​ to make a claim. The payment won’t affect any other benefits and you can make further claims if you meet the criteria.

Statutory Sick Pay

The Government has announced changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for people affected by coronavirus who have to self-isolate. SSP will now be paid from the first day of sickness rather than the usual fourth day of sickness. You could claim SSP if:

  • you've been told by the NHS that you have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus or shows coronavirus symptoms;
  • you live with someone within the same household who has coronavirus or shows coronavirus symptoms; or
  • someone in your ‘support bubble’ has coronavirus or shows coronavirus symptoms.

More information can be found on the GOV.UK website.

SSP is £94.25 per week and can be paid for up to 28 weeks. To qualify, a worker must earn at least £118 per week.

If you are not eligible to receive SSP you can claim Universal Credit and/or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

Visit Turn2us​for more information about benefits and how to claim them.

Claim benefits

If you are unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay but coronavirus means you are too sick to work, you may be able to claim new style Employment and Support Allowance, as long as you have paid enough National Insurance contribution in the last two to three years

  • ​New style Employment and Support Allowance will now get paid from day one of your claim rather than the usual day eight
  • You can now claim new style Employment and Support Allowance online.
  • Income and savings that you or your partner have will not affect your claim.

​If you are able to work but have lost your job or work less than 16 hours per week, you may be able to claim new style Jobseekers Allowance​ as long as you have paid enough National Insurance contribution in the last two to three years.

  • ​You can get new style Jobseekers Allowance for up to six months and it will be paid every two weeks
  • Income and savings that you or your partner/spouse have will not affect your claim. 

If you aren’t able to get new style Employment and Support Allowance/new style Job Seekers allowance, or you can but need extra financial help, you will need to make a separate application for Universal Credit.

Important: Universal Credit can affect other benefits

Making a claim for Universal Credit may mean that you lose other benefits you currently get, such as tax credits. 

Once you make a Universal Credit claim, your tax credit claim will stop and you cannot go back to tax credits. Before you apply for Universal Credit, try to get advice from a benefits adviser to check if you will be better off claiming Universal Credit. You can look for a local benefits adviser on the Turn2us website.

  • ​​Universal Credit is based on your household situation so your or your partner’s income and savings may affect how much you will get.
  • If you are making a new claim for Universal Credit you do not need to call anyone, claims can be made online​. If anything needs checking the DWP will call you back. 
  • There is a five week wait to receive your first Universal Credit payment. You can receive a month’s advance which you then pay back. 

You can use Citizens Advice Help to Claim service if you need additional support when making a Universal Credit application.Visit Turn2us for more information about benefits and how to claim them. They have a benefits calculator​ to help you find out what you may be able to claim. ​

Already claiming benefits?

If you are claiming Universal credit or Jobseekers Allowance you may need to meet certain requirements to continue to receive the benefit. This could be job searching, periods of time at work, or attending regular meetings or assessments. Due to coronavirus these requirements were temporarily suspended, however they have now restarted. Call the jobcentre Plus if you're worried about going to an appointment in person due to coroanvirus.

​If coronavirus means you are unable to carry out a task, you should phone the office paying the benefit to explain why. If you are claiming Universal credit, inform your work coach and explain what has happened in your online journal.

The Government has confirmed that if you are claiming sickness and disability benefits you will no longer need to attend face-to-face assessments until further notice. This will apply if you receive Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Industrial Injuries Disability Benefit and possibly Universal Credit.

You will keep getting ESA until you have a medical assessment, the DWP may try to assess you by looking at medical records and speaking to you on the phone.

You can find more details on GOV.UK.​

The Government has also temporarily changed the way they work out Universal Credit for self-employed people on low incomes. You can contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 for more information.

Post Office Card Accounts - cash delivery of some benefit payments 

You may be able to have your Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefit payments delivered in cash to your home by Royal Mail Special Delivery if:

  • you have a Post Office Card Account;
  • live in England; and 
  • cannot leave your home because of shielding reasons. 

The National Shielding Service and DWP will decide whether this is suitable. If you haven’t already been contacted but feel that this service would help you, contact the DWP and ask whether you can be included in this scheme.​

Benefit increases

From 6 April 2020 the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit will be increased by £20 per week. This will apply to new and existing claimants. The exact amount you will receive will depend on your situation.

If you rent privately the maximum amount of help you can receive through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit has been increased to 30% of the average rents in all areas of the UK. This is called the Local Housing Allowance.

To find out more about how these changes may help you, please visit Turn2us. They have a benefit calculator​ to help you find out if and how much you may be able to claim.